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The Duchess’s Fondness for Floral Day Dresses

We’re back with our final piece reviewing dresses the Duchess has worn that showcase a floral motif.

Today we look at our biggest group of dresses, those done by a wide variety of designers. Our first group offers two Jenny Packham designs and one by Prabal Gurung.

When attending a polo match in California during the 2011 North American tour, the Duchess wore a Jenny Packham silk dress in a handpainted print with muted tones. 

It had cap sleeves, gathers at the shoulder, piping at the waist, and a full skirt. The fabric was described as “de Gournay silver and marble grey chinoiserie silk.” de Gournay is the renowned interior design house known for its handpainted fabric, porcelain, and wallpaper.  (As an aside, this spring the company partnered with Erdem on a collection of wallpaper and clothing.)  

We saw Kate in another Jenny Packham design for the launch of the Jubilee Tour in 2012 when the Duke and Duchess visited Singapore’s Botanic Gardens.

The print for the dress had much the feel of the de Gournay worn in Santa Barbara, a soft, almost ethereal floral motif. The dress featured three-quarter length sleeves, a self-belt, deep vee neckline, and full skirt.

The third piece in this group was also from the 2012 Jubilee Tour, worn to a State Dinner hosted by the President of Singapore. Another example of sartorial diplomacy, the dress was by Prabal Gurung, who was born in Singapore. 

It was made of a wool/silk blend and lined in silk. The garment’s most distinctive feature was the engineered print; it also had a bateau neckline, three-quarter sleeves, and a concealed zipper. It was from the designer’s spring/summer 2012 line, a collection inspired by a series of photographs titled ‘Sensual Flowers,’ by Japanese artist Nobuyoshi Araki.

Here is a closer look at the fabric used for each piece. 

Now we look at three more dresses with engineered or placed prints, one by LK Bennett and two by Catherine Walker

During a Royal Australian Air Force engagement in April 2014, the Duchess debuted what became a much-loved piece, the ‘Lasa Poppies’ dress in Snorkel Blue from LK Bennett

A classic sheath, the cotton/rayon dress featured the distinctive poppy print, squared neckline, elbow-length sleeves, and a concealed back zipper.  The Duchess wore the dress again in 2016 when doing engagements in Luton, Bedfordshire. 

When attending Wimbledon in July 2017, Kate wore a Catherine Walker dress. 

The piece used princess seams for its fit and flare silhouette, with cap sleeves, and a hidden zipper. The pattern is called Fleurs Sauvages, or “Wildflowers.”

When leaving the Lindo Wing after having Princess Charlotte in May 2015, Kate wore a bespoke Jenny Packham “silk shift dress with buttercup print,” as described by the designer on Twitter.

The piece was built around the soft yellow border print, with three-quarter length sleeves, darts at the bust and a full lining. 

A closer look at the material from these three styles.

Our next montage showcases designs by Rochas, Seraphine Maternity, and Catherine Walker.  

At the 2017 Chelsea Flower Show, the Duchess sported a dress by Rochas.

The midi-length piece was crafted of silk crêpe de chine in an emerald and ivory floral print from the Rochas 2016 pre-fall collection. It featured a fitted waist and flared skirt, side slit pockets, exposed back zipper, and silk lining. 

On multiple occasions when expecting Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, we saw Kate in a dress by Seraphine Maternity, the brand’s ‘Florrie’ style.

The dress was 100% viscose with elbow-length sleeves, a round neck, and a curved empire waist in a length that hit just above the knee. 

It was Catherine Walker for Trooping the Colour 2015.

The Duchess wore the brand’s ‘Astrid’ coatdress, with a pencil line, done in ice blue and ivory silk.  The tailored piece had a wide rounded collar, self-covered front buttons, and three-quarter sleeves. 

A closer look at these fabrics.

In our next group, we have an LK Bennett style, an Orla Kiely dress, and a recent Beulah London piece. 

The LK Bennett dress was worn to a children’s tea party at the Natural History Museum in November 2016. 

The ‘Cersei Evergreen’ dress was a silk/rayon blend described as “luxe chiffon with textured velvet print.” Design elements include the partially sheer bodice, front keyhole opening at the neckline, long sleeves, and a midi-length. 

On a snowy February night in 2018, the Duchess was in Orla Kiely for an engagement at the National Portrait Gallery. 

The garment was from the L’Orla Resort 2018 capsule collection, a line referencing the feminist movements of the Sixties and Seventies the designer did in tandem with stylist Leith Clark.  The ‘Margaret’ was made of 100% viscose with a large floral pattern; it also had Victorian-era design features, including a smocked front panel with ruffled border and velvet trim; the high neckline and ruffled cuffs are also trimmed in velvet. 

Our third piece is by Beulah London; it was seen at a very recent engagement.

Beulah London’s ‘Shalini’ Dress was Kate’s choice for an afternoon tea in early July that celebrated the NHS’s 72nd anniversary.  It is made of 100% silk crepe de chine that was digitally printed in Italy, while the dress itself was constructed in England.  The midi-length frock showcased a contrasting white point collar and cuffs, concealed front placket, fitted waist, flared skirt, and self-belt. 

A closer view of the material used in the last three pieces. 

The next set has designs by Kate Spade, along with Ridley London, royal favorite Emilia Wickstead, and Faithfull the Brand

For World Mental Health Day engagements in October 2016, the Duchess chose a Kate Spade dress.  

The ‘Encore Rose’ Chiffon Dress featured a print “inspired by the roses tossed on stage at the end of a show.” The shirtdress had sheer sleeves, buttons from the neck to the inset waist, pleated skirt, chest patch pocket, side seam pockets, and a removable tie at the neckline, which Kate elected to wear.

Kate chose a dress by Ridley London for a photo workshop last June

The ‘Virginia’ Midi Dress featured a Liberty London print called ‘Peach Flourish’ in silk chiffon.  Design elements included a v-neck, flutter sleeves, a fitted bodice, and an A-line skirt with a flounced hem. 

For the final unveiling of her Back to Nature Garden last September, the Duchess wore Emilia Wickstead. 

She was in the ‘Aurora’ dress, part of a capsule collection the designer did with Net-a-Porter. Made of lightweight cotton seersucker, the midi-length dress featured a button front, chest pockets, deep cuffs, a wide belt, and self-covered buttons.

When helping plant a garden at The Nook Children’s Hospice in late June, Kate wore the Marie-Louise Midi Dress by Faithfull the Brand. 

Done in the label’s ‘Nefili Floral’ pattern, the handmade, hand-dyed & hand-printed piece was 100% rayon, and it featured a vee-neck and faux front closure with self-covered buttons, a shirred panel to define the waist, puffed sleeves with rows of elastic at the cuff, an invisible back zipper, and a floaty A-line skirt. 

Now for a closer look at these fabrics.

Our final group of dresses includes a mix of designers and prints: MICHAEL Michael Kors, Alexander McQueen, Vanessa Seward, Prada, and Alessandra Rich

The Duchess chose a MICHAEL Michael Kors dress for George and Charlotte’s first day of school last September. It was first worn to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding rehearsal in May 2018.

The Carnation Print Midi Dress fastened up the front with buttons, had a vee neckline, long sleeves, and a full skirt. Described as a lightweight crepe, the design was 100% polyester, fully lined, and machine washable. The colors are officially called begonia pink and true navy.

At an October 2016 Buckingham Palace reception for Team GB, Kate was in an ivory silk Alexander McQueen dress. 

Featuring a red and gray poppy motif and retro 1970s vibe, the dress also had a fitted v-neck bodice, defined waistband above a flared skirt, and full sleeves. It was from the pre-spring 2017 collection

For a Heads Together holiday part in 2016, the Duchess wore Vanessa Seward’s ‘Cai’ dress.

The Cai was done in silk jacquard that featured a small floral motif in red and green on a black background.  It had full sleeves, a button front with black enamel buttons, on-seam side pockets, and a self-belt the Duchess elected not to use. It was from the A/W 2016 collection. 

For events remembering Diana, Princess of Wales on the 20th anniversary of her death, the Duchess wore a piece by Prada.

The silk dress featured a poppy print in lightweight silk-crepe. It had a full skirt, gathers at the shoulders, long sleeves, stand collar with a detachable self-tie bow, and most distinctively, a shirred waistline.

For engagements in Dublin this March, Kate wore the Rose-Print Pleated Dress with Peplum by Alessandra Rich.

From the label’s S/S ’20 ready-to-wear line, the piece was made of silk crepe de chine. Design elements included a pleated bodice, structured bishop sleeves, off-center buttons, and peplum at the waist.

Below, a better look at the floral patterns. 

There are many floral designs not showcased here because we just didn’t have a good look at them. That includes the Anouk dress by Ghost worn for an April  ‘Clap for our Carers’ event and the Project D ‘Penelope’ worn at the end of the 2012 Tour

There are also several floral pieces not included that were seen only in video calls during the pandemic. This would include the cabbage rose print from Marks and Spencer, the Beulah London ‘Calla Rose’ Dress, and the ‘Aurora’ Wrap Dress by Boden (also seen in a black and white photo used for a Cambridge family Christmas card.)

There are several others we had just a glimpse of, like the ‘Budding Hearts’ dress by Suzannah seen in photos marking Prince George’s first birthday, and the & Other Stories maxi dress seen in pictures of the Cambridge children visiting Kate’s Back to Nature Garden.

And for some, we had no photos at all, such as the Tory Burch Chrissy Dress (click here for a photo) worn to a Place2Be event. 

This wraps up our review of dresses the Duchess has worn featuring a floral motif. In our previous posts, we covered dresses with the theme woven into the fabric.

We looked at evening gowns incorporating floral designs.

And we reviewed dresses by Erdem showcasing a floral theme.  

Now we have added ‘everyday’ designs featuring a floral print. 

More of today’s designs. 

What are the takeaways after immersing ourselves in floral dresses? A couple of thoughts: 

  • The Duchess doesn’t limit herself to solid colors and obviously enjoys a print dress. Her go-to pattern is florals, surpassing other designs by a large measure.     
  • By and large, the Duchess opts for smaller floral motifs. She isn’t afraid to do a big, bold, splashy print (see Erdem, the white with red McQueen dress covered today, the Orla Kiely, and a few others) but primarily stays with more lowkey designs.   
  • She returns to favored designers time and again: 
    • In the dresses we have covered in our floral posts, there are 14 Erdem designs, 7 by Jenny Packham, and 5 by both Alexander McQueen and Temperley London. 
  • While most dresses we covered are relatively high-end, with quite a few bespoke pieces, there are also affordable options like the Faithfull Marie-Louise ($189 and still available in a few sizes), the Marks & Spencer Cabbage Rose print midi ($69), the MICHAEL Michael Kors ($128), and the Seraphine ‘Florrie’ ($179). 

What do you think of Kate’s fondness for florals? Do you have a favorite? 

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Thursday 6th of August 2020

I forgot to add how much I love the sunny, floral yellow and white shift dress the Duchess of Cambridge wore when Princess Charlotte was introduced to the world. So pretty, so optimistic, just a perfect dress to wear, to welcome a dear baby girl. The fact that Kate looked so glowing and so beautiful is, well, what one can expect from Kate, even after the rigors of childbirth. I hope, if the Cambridges have more children, Kate doesn't feel the pressure to always look so good. It must be difficult to be under that pressure, and she shouldn't have to be, but somehow she always manages to amaze us.


Monday 3rd of August 2020

I'm not into floral designs but i like the 2014 LK bennett and the 2017 catherine walker dresses


Thursday 6th of August 2020

I think it's so interesting to see the change in her hair color!


Sunday 2nd of August 2020

Have never before noticed that weird face/figure on the Prabal Gurung dress! But still like the overall effect. Top favourites the LK Bennett - with the blue shoes/bag - and the pretty wildflower Catherine Walker one at Wimbledon. The green Rochas and the vibrant green colour of the Alessandra Riche are also on my 'tick for yes' list. I have to say most of the others leave me cold - to pastel-ly/ditzy/dull. I do think Catherine looks so much better in the bolder 'splashes of colour' floral dresses.

Oh, and those sandals from the California polo match - bring them back or, at least, wear more shoes in that style (or any style that has some interesting 'feature).

Excellent post, as usual, Susan. You are so amazingly thorough


Saturday 1st of August 2020

Susan, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this. What a lovely walk down memory lane, and an interesting look at how Kats's style has changed over the years!

Linda Beutler

Thursday 30th of July 2020

Thanks a million for this. Your posts, their thoroughness no matter the occasion, are without fail the highlight of any day they drop. This was a terrific walk down memory lane, seeing a lot of "old friends", like the Prabal Gurung and the LK Bennett blue on white (blue and white, no matter what, always sharp and crisp). And I had the same response to the 2016 Kate Spade that I had the first time: get that dress a belt! This post also drew my attention to a dress that somehow didn't strike me upon first viewing, but wows me with its details now, the LK Bennett Cersei Evergreen from Nov. 2016. Beautiful fabric. I'd love for the Duchess to wear it again.


Thursday 30th of July 2020

Thank you for such a lovely comment, Linda! It's definitely my pleasure. :)

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